Once upon a time, motorbikes were the things people bought when they couldn’t afford a car. Now, with the exception of young kids and a few moped riders, that’s not really the case. For most of us, a motorcycle is a luxury item. We use them as a toy on a weekend, rather than a tool to get us from A to B. Perhaps that’s the reason that, over the years, we’ve been happy to pay more and more and more for the privilege of owning one. In fact these days, the cost of motorcycling is so high that it’s a wonder anyone still does it. Or is it? I’ve heard it said time and time again, but is it really so prohibitively expensive? Join us in an exploration of the cost of motorcycling, as we ask ‘Motorcycling; is it really that expensive?’.
This is a bit of a sticking point for a lot of people as far as the cost of motorcycling goes. With all the training, the CBT, the theory test, the Mod 1 and Mod 2 tests, it’s not cheap. Many will have to throw the thick end of £1,500 at it. And you might even need some more if you’ve got zero experience on a bike. I will admit that that is going to prohibit some people from taking it up. How many teenagers do you know with £1,500 spare to get their bike license? Or how many adults, for that matter? Not many, probably.
Unless they’ve invested in bitcoin from an early age, or they’ve got their own YouTube channel unboxing fidget spinners and stuff, most kids* are going to need a cash injection from mummy and daddy before they can even dream of taking their bike test. Although, let’s face it, most kids will need some financial help from the ‘rents to get their car license too.
No, the majority of us have to wait until we’re grownups and we’ve got our own money to waste. And yes, it might be a decent chunk of cash, but it’s not really a waste is it? Once you’ve got your bike license, you’ve got it (barring any ill-behaviour). It’ll open up a whole new world of excitement, exploration and friendships. Not bad for £1,500
In the olden days* you didn’t have to wear anything to ride a motorbike… well nothing specific anyway. Now, we’ve got to wear all this expensive safety equipment that, quite frankly, I don’t know how anyone is supposed to be able to afford. Oh hang on a minute, no we don’t. It’s just a helmet that we need to wear now, isn’t it? And it doesn’t need to be an all-singing-all-dancing £1,000 helmet either. At the moment, the law states that you’ve got to wear a helmet that meets or surpasses at least one of a handful of safety standards. And them standards aren’t particularly high. You could find a lid that ticks the right boxes for less than £50 if you wanted to. Although I’d recommend spending a bit more.
A couple of hundred quid will get you a decent AGV helmet, and the same again will get you everything else you need (or certainly ought to have), if you know where to look (hint RST). Of course, the world is your oyster, and you can spend £1,000s on the latest carbon fibre helmets, airbag suits and heated gloves if you want to. And whilst that kind of bike kit is more expensive than it’s ever been, it’s also better than it’s ever been.
The cost of new bikes these days really does seem to get a lot of people’s dander up. £20k is the starting point if you want a top of the range superbike and you can spend a lot more if you want to/can afford to. But, top-of-the-range bikes are more expensive these days for the same reason that top-of-the-range kit is. They are faster and handle better than they ever have. And with all the electronics, they’re as safe, if not safer than ever too. In fact, according to Chris, the BMW S 1000 RR is nigh-on uncrushable.
And what kind of a sportscar would you get for £20k? Certainly not a new one, I can tell you. So yes, whilst superbikes are dear to buy, they are still far superior to anything four-wheeled in the price/performance stakes.
And who says you need a £20k+ stupidbike anyway? You could probably buy yourself a ten year old Super Duke* for £5k and have just as much fun. And get there just as quick.
*Other used bikes are available
Your Running Costs
I don’t know anyone that’s ever bought a bike off the back of its MPG figures. That said, thanks to their relatively small engines and light weight, you ought to be able to expect 30mpg from even the sportiest bikes*. So your fuel bill isn’t going to be astronomical. In fact, once you’ve bought one, there shouldn’t be any one element of motorcycle ownership that’s mega bucks.
If you’ve been a naughty boy of girl with points aplenty on your license, the insurance companies will want their pound of flesh. Likewise, if you’ve been a clumsy boy or girl and you’ve had a few insurance claims. But that’s the same with anything.
Tyres will be a couple of hundred quid a set (decent ones anyway) and a simple service will cost you £50 or so, by the time you’ve bought yourself some oil and a filter. More if you take it to a garage or a dealer, obviously.
*at full chat, a superbike at the Isle of Man TT will do about 15mpg
So whilst the cost of motorcycling isn’t as low as it once was, you have to ask yourself ‘what is?’. Granted there are one or two things that are cheaper to get hold of nowadays, but they are few and far between. And they are a bit crap. But motorbikes aren’t. They are really, really good. And if you ask me, they’re worth every penny.